Amazing it is, that many professing believers would fall short in their duty and service to the Lord, simply over a doctrine that is preached from some of the most popular pulpits among us. If we are the body, why aren’t his hands healing? Why isn’t his tongue dancing with encouragement, edification, and good news? How could some believe that Satan is still given the authority to possess, but that the Church has no authority to cast him out?
There’s a lot of theological issues surrounding something called “Cessationism,” which is the unfortunate claim that the gifts of the spirit ceased after the era of the early church. The issue we should take with this, is that Bible talks about spiritual gifts in a continual context as well as an outpouring of spiritual gifts in the last days (Acts 2:17).
“Do you have any examples of modern-day prophets or healers?” The short answer is yes, but I can tell you I’ve been at this long enough to know that when you begin naming names, people immediately jump to attacking not only you, but your examples. Better would it be, for me to explain the scriptures surrounding spiritual gifts, and leave it to you, the reader, to decide whether or not you want to argue against the scriptures. We can take shots at people day in and day out, but a follower of Christ wants to hear what the Bible has to say about the matter, rather than argue with each other’s work.
“Let love be your highest goal!
But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—
especially the ability to prophesy.”
(1 Cor 14:1 NLT)
Let’s begin with prophecy, as it goes along with the gift of healing, as being one of the most attacked spiritual gifts from cessationists. When Paul talks about prophecy, he doesn’t paint it in the light of “Doom & Gloom/ End of the World Fire & Brimstone” foretelling of events soon to come. In fact, the Pauline doctrine, appropriately so, describes prophecy as something that is edifying and encouraging to fellow believers. In 1st Corinthians 14:3, Paul writes, “On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.”
Beloved, I was even one who began to believe that YouTube killed prophecy. Every year, these deceivers intentionally twist one or two scriptures to condemn the world and the church along with it, attempting to instill fear into gullible minds, and if I may add, minds who are easily swayed by every doctrine they hear. They feed off of the bitterness within people who are so fed up with the world around them, that they just want it to end. However, when sending his disciples out on the great commission, Jesus said, “therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” When have we seen ‘doom & gloom’ make disciples? Are the fruits of the holy spirit not love, joy, edification, justice and an overall warmth that radiates from us? We do not work to draw people to Christ through fear; but through good news, edification, and encouragement.
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
(1 Corinthians 12:7 ESV)
What if I told you that people get sick for various reasons, far beyond biological misfortune. There are various examples of this seen throughout Jesus’s ministry alone, and that’s not counting the unclean spirits the early church encountered. Mark 9:25 says, “And when Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.’” Often times, disease and illness are the work of an unclean spirit who has touched, or even possessed, an individual. Matthew 12:22 as well as Mark 9:17 give other examples of this.
Fallen angels have rejected God, and every day they strive to oppose not only peoples spiritual understanding, but also their physical development. One of the flaws I see in cessationist theology, is that they clearly believe the enemy still has the authority to possess people, or make them sick, but they then turn around and claim that the Holy Spirit no longer gives us the authority to drive them out. Consider then, that the claim states that the enemy has been given authority over not only the Body of Christ, but are given authority over mankind as a whole. “Satan is more powerful than He who lives in you,” is then the default theological conclusion a cessationist would have.
“Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem,
bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits,
and all of them were healed.”
Just like the “doom & gloomer’s” on YouTube who have fatally damaged peoples understanding of prophecy, there are specific denominations who are, to this day, teaching that the Holy Spirit has not come upon you unless you have the gift of tongues. In 1 Corinthians, Romans, and Ephesians, Paul teaches us that each of us are given different gifts, he tells us that a hand does not have the same functions as the foot or the tongue. Yet there are denominations that teach that every person must have the same spiritual gift to prove their salvation to the congregation. This theology has caused people to act out, or even fake the gift of tongues, and in some instances, tell false prophecies.
Ought we not begin to understand why the gifts of the spirit have been turned into a joke? It’s as if the only rational ones are the cessationists themselves, at least they appear to not be faking anything. Should we not be frustrated that those who believe God still gives us spiritual gifts are faking them to get by, while the broken theology of cessationism abounds simply because on the surface they appear as genuine?
“To one, through the Spirit, is given a word of wisdom; to another, a word of knowledge, in accordance with the same Spirit; to another, faith, by the same Spirit; and to another, gifts of healing, by the one Spirit; to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the ability to judge between spirits; to another, the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues; and to yet another, the ability to interpret tongues. One and the same Spirit is at work in all these things, distributing to each person as he chooses.”
(1 Corinthians 12:8-11 CJB)
Beloved, even edification is a spiritual gift, even encouraging the faith of others as well as an abundance of faith within an individual are spiritual gifts. Are we really foolish enough to believe that encouraging others died with the early church? Because that is out very claim by stating that prophecy and healing, too, are dead and gone. You cannot claim that 2 or 3 spiritual gifts are dead but that the others live on. The body of Christ was meant to heal, edify, encourage each other in faith and understanding through words of wisdom and knowledge. The cup cannot be half empty, nor can it be half full, for we know that our cup it’s to overflow in abundance. Cessationism is a dead body, it is a church that is lifeless, how can we grab hold of this doctrine while proclaiming “He is Alive!” How can we practice death in the body of Christ while proclaiming the resurrection?